A LETTER FROM DIRECTOR HARRY MAVROMICHALIS
Louie, Marriage & Aging:
Having just got married last week, I can’t stop thinking about Olympia and Louie. This is a couple who have been together for 50 years, yet when they are in the same room, you see and feel the love and respect they still have for each other. When I asked her children “What makes your mother laugh?” they all gave me the same answer: “Our dad!” They have managed to find the secret to a healthy and long-lasting relationship without the bitterness that overtakes many couples’ lives.
Many of you don’t know Louie Zorich. Louie is probably one of the most wonderful men I have ever met. He is a successful actor who has been in films like “Fiddler on the Roof,” TV shows like “Mad About You,” and hundreds, if not thousands of plays. The last play I saw him in was Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” where he played side-by-side with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard. He has a very deep and joyful voice and he swears like a sailor. At 90 years old, he just finished writing his second book: “Beating the Odds: A Memoir.” He loves gossip and is always asking me to give him the scoop. His laugh is contagious and he is a natural storyteller. When I interviewed him for the documentary, for every question I asked, he had a story to tell. One day I got so frustrated with him I decided to just be frank. I told him that every time I ask him something, he answers with a story. His face pulled back and he looked at me with surprise, then started laughing. “Really?” he asked. “Yes, really.” I replied. He said that he wouldn’t do it again, so I went on to ask my next question only to have Louie reply with another story. I shrugged my shoulders and just went with it. He is a true storyteller so I surrendered to that, and what I got were some beautifully colorful stories about their lives together.
When I see how in love they still are with each other, I panic. I want them to be able to see this movie together. This is an ode to Olympia but also to Louie and their relationship. It is this relationship that has allowed the two of them to succeed in what they set out to do. It is this relationship that keeps them happy. And it is because of this that I panic. I can’t stop thinking how they must feel with the fear of losing their partner. And what would it be like to lose your best friend after living together for 50 years. So I spoke to them about it and what we have gathered, is an extremely honest and deep look into what it means to get older. I can’t wait to share this part of the documentary with you. I didn’t hold back, I asked all the difficult questions and they were both gracious to take that journey with me. It is not a sad story, it is an inspiring story, because if I could only have half of their happiness, then I would feel like the luckiest man alive.
By Harry Mavromichalis, Director
ABOUT THE FILM
More than a retrospective of a life well lived, Olympia Dukakis: Undefined is an intimate look at what makes life worth living and what it costs to hold on to those things. Set against the backdrop of a jam-packed work schedule, we follow Olympia from her teaching workshops to her performances, to more private moments with family and friends. Entering the eighth decade of her life, now more than ever, she is beginning to face issues of aging and mortality, of sustaining a life and livelihood that has become her identity. This is a tale of what keeps us young and what keeps us going – of what it means and what it takes to never stop.
From rehearsals in Cyprus for her first play in Greek, to her 49th wedding anniversary with husband and actor, Louis Zorich, we capture a woman in constant motion, devoted to her craft and her family. Olympia Dukakis: Undefined offers a glimpse into her life through intimate interviews, where she reveals her passions as well as her fears, with all her trademark wit and candor. We sat down with friends and colleagues like Whoopi Goldberg, Lynn Cohen, Diane Ladd, Mimi Denisi and Ed Asner, who tell their favorite stories and share what makes Olympia so special. This unprecedented access has allowed us to showcase a deep and movingly honest portrait of Olympia Dukakis.
“I was lucky enough to meet Olympia when I invited her to teach a workshop in Cyprus a few years ago. After spending a week with her I had fallen completely in love. I realized how unique and special she is and so I decided to make a documentary about the real Olympia. My goal has always been to try and showcase the person that I got to know. Not just an Oscar-winning actress, but the passionate and inspiring woman she is.
She has given us complete access to her life. We got to know the Actress, the Mother, the Wife, the Friend, the Activist, the Politician, and the WOMAN and through all these we realized that Olympia Dukakis is really undefined. Even her best selling book was called "Ask Me Again Tomorrow" because she constantly changes and transforms herself. BUT, the essence, her essence remains the same, which is what we have managed to capture with this documentary.”
-Director Harry Mavromichalis-
WHO SHE IS
Olympia Dukakis was born on June 20, 1931, in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Greek immigrants (Constantine and Alexandra (née Christos) Dukakis). She majored, however, in physical therapy at Boston University, where she graduated with a BA. She practiced as a physical therapist during the polio epidemic. She later returned to her alma mater and entered the graduate program in performing arts and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree.
Already a distinguished stage veteran, Olympia gained widespread attention in 1987 with her Academy Award-winning performance in Moonstruck. It was an incredible honor that launched the second chapter of her celebrated career, the bulk of which had been spent on stage as an actor, director, and producer. Other memorable roles soon followed, including Steel Magnolias and Mr. Holland’s Opus. A former master instructor at both NYU and Yale, she continues to teach and share her love for acting in her workshops around the globe.
Olympia’s commitment to universal justice has led her to become an outspoken activist for LGBT rights, women’s rights, diabetes awareness, and Alzheimer's research. Her ties to politics were on full display when in her 1987 Oscar acceptance speech, she famously cheered her cousin, Michael Dukakis, in his bid for President. True to her roots, she has lent her support to many theaters, notably the American Conservatory Theater, of which she is a board member, as well as co-founding two theater companies of her own.
A long-time New Yorker, she still resides there with her husband of over 50 years, actor, Louis Zorich. She has 3 children and 4 grandchildren. The Greek America Foundation honored Olympia with their Lifetime Achievement Award and she received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013.
Never one to stop, Olympia has performed in over 130 productions. At 82, she continues to perform, travel, teach, and advocate with an unwavering youthfulness and enthusiasm.
WHO IS TALKING ABOUT HER
We are interviewing family, friends and colleagues, who are sharing their thoughts and experiences about Olympia. They include:
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WHERE THE MONEY GOES
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Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge we currently face is financial, which is why we are on Kickstarter. We have been filming Olympia continuously for the last three years so we could make a complete and unique film about an iconic actress. Until now, we have been trying to pay for all the costs of production, out of our own pockets, which unfortunately isn’t enough to complete the film. We still have 17 interviews to film not to mention editing, composing, sound mixing and all the other steps necessary to finish. We already have an amazing team of experienced professionals who are ready to start post-production; what we need now is your support to help us raise $100,000. Once we achieve our goal, we can guarantee the completion of this film by the end of 2014.
When you donate to this project, not only will you be part of this amazing film, you will also be associating your name with a film that will be screened all over the world. We plan on showcasing the documentary at the main film festivals which include: Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and Sheffield Festival. This film also has great potential for the big screen, television and internet streaming distribution. Above all, you will become part of our family by helping to create a thought-provoking and compelling film.
We are very passionate about making this project and are extremely excited to share it with the world!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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